One of the most common questions I get is about senior dog foods! The answer is not what you think! In today's blog, we'll go over some of the ins and outs of senior dog foods.
Should my pet be on a senior dog food? My answer is: Maybe. But, not necessarily!
Let's talk why. While there are many great senior dog foods out there, the term ‘senior’ on a dog food does not necessarily mean it has what your senior dog needs. As of right now, there is no standard definition for ‘senior’ dog foods and so senior diets vary greatly by the manufacturer and what they value for senior dogs.
For example, one thing that happens to majority of senior dogs is their metabolism slows down. Since senior dogs also have a propensity to gain fat and lose muscle, this can cause weight gain in senior dogs. So many senior dog foods are lower calories, BUT NOT all! When I review some senior dog food labels, many of them show calories equivalent to that which you'd find in their adult version dog food.
In addition, there comes a point for some geriatrics where they actually can’t keep weight on! For those senior dogs, it would be really important to make sure they are not on a lower calorie senior food for them during that season of health.
The recommended protein amount for senior dogs vary too. Healthy senior dogs do not need restricted protein diets. It is not healthy for them. However, those senior dogs that are developing kidnye dysfunction (a common ailment for senior dogs) would benefit from restricted dietary protein. Some commerical senior dog foods automatically restrict proteins in their diet but again this is in fact NOT good for healthy senior dogs.
The short of it is, there’s NOT a one size fits all and many senior dog foods vary GREATLY based on their manufacturer.
SO, what is my suggestion?
Stick to what your veterinarian recommends, make sure the food is Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved and download the WSAVA guidelines for pet parents and questions to ask pet food makers regarding their foods (do they practice feeding trials, etc.).
In the next few months, I’ll start sharing a few of the senior dog food diets that I do love in addition to what I have my crew on. Hint: Half of my senior dog crew is on senior dog foods and the other half is not! Wishing you and your senior an amazing day!!
by Dr. Monica Tarantino